The government is looking to avert the crises of depleting flora and fauna in the country one tree at a time. Approving the launch of the ‘Green Pakistan Programme’, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave his go-ahead to plant over 100 million trees in the country.

The programme targets to plant this magnanimous number of plants over the next five years. Improving the forest levels of the country is an urgent need considering that there are virtually no checks placed on chopping trees anywhere in Pakistan. The preservation and management of forest and wildlife resources of the country needs to be adequately developed in line with the best international practices.

This is a good initiative and a step in the right direction. With all relevant federal and provincial ministries and agencies facilitated to fulfill these tasks, this can do wonders for reclaiming cities that have lost almost all their green patches. However, it is questionable whether this can be sustained in the long run. The billion tree Tsunami campaign of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, even though on the same pattern and noble intention, was far from viable. The fact that most trees planted were eucalyptus trees that suck up massive amounts of groundwater makes the whole programme a means of political point scoring. There is an urgent need to plant more trees, but not those that do more harm than good. Only through correct assessment of forest resource depletion, use of modern technology, and development of immediate and long-term forest resource expansion plans will we see a successful project.

In China, the Great Green Wall programme has contributed to ordinary citizens planting some 56 billion trees across China in the last decade.

It is clear that our Green Pakistan programme also needs the same level of civic responsibility, not only dropping the entire load on the government. We also need to make sure that the type of forests planted, and their location do not limit its effectiveness.